State Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, released a statement on Monday regarding a revenue forecast showing the state government now expects to bring in more than $1 billion less in revenue over the next four years than previously estimated.
According to Wilson, who serves as the Republican budget leader in the state Senate, the decline should serve as a “reality check” for budget writers who will soon unveil spending proposals for the 2023-2025 biennium.
The forecast, produced by Washington state’s chief non-partisan economist, projects $483 million less revenue than previously expected for the 2023-2025 biennium and $541 million less for the 2025-2027 biennium. The forecast was adopted by the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, which Wilson chairs, at its meeting on Monday afternoon.
“No one who has been paying attention should be surprised by this downturn. Economic activity in our state showed signs of slowing last fall, and as our chief economist reported today, the same interest-rate increases that are causing trouble in the banking industry are depressing construction activity and home buying and other major consumer purchases,” Wilson said. “That’s on top of the continuing crisis of affordability in our state, which has people paying high costs for gas, heat, food and housing.”
Wilson added the state government is still in a “sound” budget position, mentioning the state still had a “robust” rainy day fund. According to Wilson, the state government should still see a surplus of around $4.5 billion even after factoring in higher costs of maintaining state services. She went on to argue there was “zero justification” for new taxes of any kind.
“All that said, it would be a very good idea to take a more cautious approach to spending in the upcoming operating budget. State agencies have grown used to big spending from the majority Democrats in the past half-dozen years,” Wilson said. “That rate of growth simply can’t continue if we are to remain in a sound budget position. … Let’s keep expenditures under control now rather than set the stage for a future shortfall.”
Wilson said the release of the revenue forecast means proposals for the state’s operating budget can now be expected in the coming days. She closed her statement arguing the proposals from both chambers “need to put average Washington families first, not government.”